Reading fads: why Tom Friedman does not compute.I'm always on the lookout for in search of; looking for.
See also: Lookout educational trends. Over the past couple of months the usual suspects who speak at education conferences have been toting around copies of Thomas Friedman's new book, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. These knuckleheads and the administrators who love them can't resist the temptation to quote Friedman in reverential rev·er·en·tial
1. Expressing reverence; reverent.
2. Inspiring reverence.
rev terms. One popular speaker uses Friedman to support his new mantra, "American students need to develop a global work ethic work ethic
A set of values based on the moral virtues of hard work and diligence.
a belief in the moral value of work ." What the heck does that mean? Should U.S. high school students produce Sponge-Bob shirts for Wal-Mart?
I admired Tom Friedman There have been two notable people named Tom Friedman:
For those of you who have not surrendered $27.50 to Mr. Friedman, allow me summarize The World is Flat. The Indians are going to eat your children. If any remain, the Chinese will kill the rest a few years later.
This book is a hysterical screed screed
1. A long monotonous speech or piece of writing.
a. A strip of wood, plaster, or metal placed on a wall or pavement as a guide for the even application of plaster or concrete.
b. about how the Internet has made it possible for developing countries to threaten the American Way. Of course, our schools are maligned ma·lign
tr.v. ma·ligned, ma·lign·ing, ma·ligns
To make evil, harmful, and often untrue statements about; speak evil of.
1. Evil in disposition, nature, or intent.
2. with test scores and insults about our lazy students.
No matter how complex the issue--education, economics, international affairs or technology--an expert is anyone willing to speak with Friedman. An e-mail from a gentleman Friedman met while waiting in an airport is included as a prescription for improving our schools and global competitiveness. The history of personal computing, as told by the Microsoft Corp., is littered with misinformation mis·in·form
tr.v. mis·in·formed, mis·in·form·ing, mis·in·forms
To provide with incorrect information.
mis , glaring omissions and Ron Popeil-like amazement. Imagine if your grandmother explained Internet protocols and you begin to get the idea. Southwest lets you print your own boarding passes. Copying machines can fax ... yada yada yada.
The book is tittered with self-evident news of the information age. Think of it as The Weekly Reader Guide to Globalization globalization
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation or Current Events for Dummies. If you have not used the Web, read a newspaper, watched TV or left the house since 1980, this book is for you.
Wisdom is not always found in sound bites or factoids. Comparisons regarding the number of engineering graduates in China India and the U.S. are meaningless. The only way we can "catch-up" is if Mr. and Mrs. Friedman do their part and birth a billion American children.
Friedman breathlessly tells the tale of Rajesh, an Indian programmer who owns a computer gaming company. Rajesh's employees are, of course, smarter and much harder working than Americans and the 'Net allows them to compete in the global marketplace. The most shocking revelation is that Rajesh's company recently bought the rights to use Charlie Chaplin's image for computer games. "That's right--a start-up Indian game company owns the Chaplin image for use in mobile computer games."
Say it ain't so!
How many 14- to 25-year-old boys want to play a Charlie Chaplin computer game? There is a reason why American companies don't invest millions in Charlie Chaplin-themed games. Nobody will buy them. If this is the best evidence Friedman can offer of global high-tech entrepreneurial threats, our test scores can safely slide for a few more decades.
Even if you am fascinated by what Friedman reports, his writing gave me a toothache Toothache Definition
A toothache is any pain or soreness within or around a tooth, indicating inflammation and possible infection.
A toothache may feel like a sharp pain or a dull ache. . Every idea is named, 1.0, 2.0, etc ... to demonstrate Tom's high-tech hipness. Cutesiness abounds. In discussing the end of Communism, Friedman writes, "Someone else was raising a glass--not of champagne but of thick Turkish coffee. His name was Osama Bin Laden Osama bin Laden: see bin Laden, Osama. and he had a different narrative." The book is peppered with spew-inducing passages like, "When the Berlin Wall becomes the Berlin Mall ..." I suspect Nipsey Russell was the ghostwriter ghost·writ·er
One who writes for and gives credit of authorship to another.
Noun 1. ghostwriter - a writer who gives the credit of authorship to someone else
Maybe I'm wrong and the book is fabulous. It's still alarming that so many school leaders feel compelled to seek advice from people who know nothing about education. Such pop business books create great PowerPoint bullets, but do little to transform classroom practice. You may curry favor with the Business Roundtable Business Roundtable (BRT), an association consisting of the chief executive officers of major U.S. corporations that was founded in 1972 through the merger of the three preexisting business organizations. , but Hill do little to benefit children. Seeking wisdom from a variety of sources is laudable, but books sold in airport gift shops should not set education policy.
Gary Stager, firstname.lastname@example.org, is editor-at-large and an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University.